West Virginia suffered a tough loss in the Backyard Brawl last weekend, with Pitt sneaking out a touchdown victory following a tipped pick-six. JT Daniels didn’t look great, but the Mountaineers might have a running game.
Kansas is prepping for another typical year of Jayhawk football. The Jayhawks blew out Tennessee Tech by 46 points and now get ready for a brutal Big 12 schedule in which they might win just one game.
But the Jayhawks are known for pulling rabbits out of hats. The win over Texas last season is a perfect example.
Can the Jayhawks surprise West Virginia?
Let’s break it down. Read on for our Kansas Jayhawks vs West Virginia Mountaineers odds, picks, and predictions.
Kansas Jayhawks vs West Virginia Mountaineers Odds
This total opened just over two touchdowns but the sharp money has come in on Kansas. The line dropped to KU +13 at one point before settling at +13.5.
I’d make this line around 13, too, but I think there are reasons to be optimistic about the Jayhawks here.
I lean heavily towards the under at the current number. However, four of the last five matchups between Kansas and West Virginia have gone over. So, that may be a pass from me.
Kansas Jayhawks vs West Virginia Mountaineers Prediction & Pick
Eight starters return for the Jayhawks defensively. But how much of an improvement can they make?
Kansas finished 2021 129th in Defensive Standard Down Success rate and Defensive Rushing Play Success Rate. They allowed 250 rushing yards per game last season at over six yards per carry. The front seven was getting shredded.
Phil Steele projects that the Jayhawks will allow about 35 points per game, which would be a full touchdown improvement from 2021 (42.2 PPG allowed) and a double-digit improvement from 2020 (46 PPG allowed).
I bring this up because West Virginia moved the ball on Pitt. The Mountaineers rocked a Pitt rush defense that I considered to have one of the best front sevens in the nation. It’s made me reconsider both the Mountaineer offense and the Pitt defense.
Either way, I don’t expect JT Daniels to light up anyone this season. I’ve never been high on him at Georgia, and he completed just 23 of his 40 passes for a whopping 214 yards. It added up to 5.2 adjusted yards per attempt.
On the other side, the Kansas offense returns nine starters, including 89 career starts on an underrated offensive line. This unit won’t be good, but they’ll have a slightly better time running the ball.
I don’t know, but I have a feeling Kansas could be frisky with a rush-heavy attack by both sides. This game will be a slow-tempo, Big 12 rock fight, and I’m taking the points in that case.
Kansas Jayhawks vs West Virginia Mountaineers Key Matchups
Key Matchup No. 1: West Virginia’s Run Game vs Jayhawks’ Front Seven
Kansas had eight defensive linemen with starting experience return. Only one linebacker left, and they added a Michigan transfer to the unit. Kansas is going to take strides in the running game, but how much better can you get after such a disastrous season?
In the meanwhile, West Virginia has to prove it can consistently rush the ball. Was last week a one-time aberration? Or is this Mountaineer team legit on the ground?
If the latter is the case, we may have to seriously upgrade the Mountaineer offense going forward.